Conflicted about job, help!

Specialties School


I am a new grad with less than a year total nursing experience, mainly in a neuro tele unit. I currently do work on this unit in the hospital but have an opportunity that opened up for a school nurse position at my daughter's current school. My daughter will be entering 1st grade next year and my son Kinder in one year so I am just beginning the elementary school journey with them. This makes the job...working in their school....really appealing...and I like kids. And my hospital job is HARD (you all know this;)), etc.

But the posts here are scaring me! I know school nursing is not as easy as it seems (I have a friend who does high school school nursing) but I don't want to jump from the kettle into the fire, either. If I did get this job I was going to try to go per diem at the hospital for a while but not sure they will let me since I only have about 6 months there. Right now my husband and I literally work opposite schedules to cover childcare and I never see my kids on days they are off school while we both work full time so this seems like it would be such a better fit for my family but I am really struggling now with whether or not this is the right move. I am still in that sick-before-every-hospital-shift stage but I don't have any PEDS experience really. And everyone here says get your experience but how does working mostly with geriatrics help you with kids? LOL I appreciate any insight or advice you can give me!

And I don't know any of the answers to the common school nurse interview questions and I think I have to meet with the principal tomorrow! Can you help me answer any of these:

What would you do if it was suspected that the student was "under the influence"

What if a student came to you and thought she may be pregnant? What would you do?

What if you suspected a child was being abused?

I had this question once...what would you do if little Johnny was giggling with friends holding a box and you see that in the box was a baby bat he picked up this morning at the bus stop?

You might get some "what would you do" type questions. For instance, what would you do if a child showed up with a medication, but there is no med permit on file. Or what would you do if a child had a minor head injury and you could not reach the parents?

bsyrn, ASN, RN

810 Posts

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor.

School Nursing is difficult at times and it would be better if you did have some pediatric or emergency experience. That being said, with a good support system of other nurses in your district, your principal and your medical director, you should do fine. As for your questions....if a student is suspected of being "under the influence" I do a complete assessment including vitals and a pupil check. Depending on the substance, you will see changes. ( you will learn how different substances affect the body). I also ask the student what and how much they took. Believe it or not, usually they fess up. If you are working with Elementary kids you probably won't be dealing with this much. The pregnancy question, I always suggest they talk to their parent or guardian, if that's not possible, I refer them to planned parenthood and our Social Worker. The Child abuse question is easy, you are a mandated reporter so you would need to report this to CPS. Bats....well, they carry rabies so the Dept of health would need to get involved. Kids showing up with meds and no paperwork, I would keep the med and call a parent unless it was an Epi pen or inhaler, I would NOT take that from a student but I would call the parent to get the paperwork filled out. Any head injury requires parental notification, If I couldn't get a hold of the parent or emergency contact person, I would leave a message and send a note home. School nursing is a great fit when you have school age children. It is great to work the same hours as your kids are in school and have the same vacations and days off. Good luck with your interview. You will do fine :)

Wave Watcher

751 Posts

Specializes in Community Health/School Nursing.


What happens at the bus stop.....stays at the bus stop!! LOL Ain't nobody got time for that!

There's certainly no harm in interviewing for the job opening and make it as much an interview of them as it is you. Find out what the expectations are, what the role of the School Nurse is in their district (this often varies greatly from school to school) and see if afterwards you feel like it would be a good fit. Ask lots of questions.

A lot of what I do during the day is assessing as things come in and making a judgment call on what the next step should be. The "what if" questions in an interview often do not have perfectly right and wrong answers. They are trying to see how you think on your feet and if you show good thought process and judgment. Also remember that oftentimes in a school interview there are no other Nurses there. Just educators, administrators and maybe a parent. They aren't always looking for a "nursing" answer. When thinking about your answers consider your answer from a parent, teacher, administrator and medical perspective. On your minor head injury question what would you want your child's School Nurse to do? What would be a concern to the principal or your school? As a teacher what would be your concerns and what would help you? As a Nurse what do you think your patient needs? Are they in immediate need of medical attention? Then you know what to do. Do they just need the adults in their lives to keep an eye out for anything unusual? Educate the student and their parents/teachers if needed.

There is no perfect experience that can prepare you for School Nursing. Having some clinical experience helps especially with confidence in your decisions but a good support system is key. If you don't have one internally at your district reach out to other local School Nurses and get one! Being a mom will help you with School Nursing as well. I absolutely LOVE working with Elementary School kids. I am definitely the Mom at my school. Often to the kids and the adults.

Flare, ASN, BSN

5 Articles; 4,431 Posts

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

if a student at the elementary level came to my thinking they are pregnant I would be extremely concerned!!

Most of the questions have answers that fall back onto district policy and/or ensuring student safety first.

With the suspected under the influence - ensure that the student is not in any distress then refer to district policy - some districts require a more indepth assessment than others before sending the student out for mandatory lab testing in a case of SUI.

If you suspect a student is being abused, you have a duty to report it, just as you would with any patient. If its a teacher that has the suspicion, then they must report it. You may assist, do a body check, document any injury, note any statement that the student gives you, but if the first suspicion was raised by the teacher they may not dump it on you.

As far as the pregnancy issue - in all seriousness, I would have a serious discussion with the student about their sexual history, LMP, birth control methods, etc. I would get the Student Assistance counselor involved or the guidance counselor depending on the resources available at the school.

The children with the bat should all be brought into the office to be check, have parents called and local health dept called.

child with meds but no order has meds confiscated, parents called and policy reviewed with parents. that medication will not be administered until the paperwork is in order, nor will it be returned to the child. it can be picked up by a parent.

The head injury, i'd just call, leave a message, follow up with the child and call again later if need be. Parents have a tendency to have 6 numbers to call them on and not answer ANY of them. I'm not going to jump through hoops unless it's a matter of life and limb.


1 Article; 4,787 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics Retired.

Being a parent of a couple of elementary schoolers goes a long way toward your success as a school nurse; especially since the parents will be the source of most of your grief as a school nurse!!!! If you were a brand new grad with no children I'd discourage you. You do have enough experience to now realize the reality of nursing versus the fantasy of nursing school. If the district has other nurses that are available to use as resources, I say go for it. Best of luck.

Tina, RN

513 Posts

Specializes in Acute Care, CM, School Nursing.

Go for the school nurse job!!! I think you will do great. It will be a Godsend to you, in terms of being on a schedule with your own kids. Yes, it can be a very frustrating job. But, I think as far as nursing jobs, it's one of the best to have. Just keep in mind that the pay will probably be way less than the hospital.

You have some nursing experience. I think having children of your own is a huge help with this job, too. You will be fine!


22 Posts

My daughter attends the elementary school I work for and my younger daughter will be starting soon. I can't tell you how much I enjoy having the same schedule as her. I also love the fact that I know her friends, her friends parents, and the teachers. You may miss out on valuable experiences by leaving the hospital and make LESS money. It was a hard decision for me, but I am glad I did it. Oh yeah, having summers off rocks.

Nurse ABC

437 Posts

If I were you I'd go for it. Keep your other job prn if possible so if you decide it's not for you, after the school year you can go back to it full-time if needed. It's not for everyone. I do miss my days off during the week but it's nice to have summers/holidays off.

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